Wednesday, February 29, 2012

What's in My Glass Wednesday! 2010 Wolftrap Red by Boekenhoutskloof Winery

How many times have you tasted a wine from South Africa?  Usually my purchases from the wine region revolve around Pinotage.  However, I came across this wonderful wine produced by Boekenhoutskloof, which means "Cape of Good Hope".  Check out their website - I really like how it's put together!

I couldn't agree more with their marketing description from their winemaker:  "Sourced from Malmesbury in the Swartland the Syrah provides the spice and weight while the Mourvèdre adds structure and aroma to the blend. The pungent Viognier component boosts the perfume profile. French oak matured with the Viognier blended prior to bottling.

Tasting notes: Spicy profile with ripe black fruit and cherries. Hints of violet flavours from the Viognier. Smooth and rich on the palate with soft tannins and good density.  Made for easy drinking."

A 65% syrah, 32% mouvedre, and 3% viognier, the specs on this wine are amazing: 14.29% alcohol, 2.7 g/L residual sugar, and 5.7 g/L tartaric acid.  This wine is a real gem.  For more information about this wine, in addition to my notes, read more here.

2010 Wolftrap Red by Boekenhoutskloof Winery

(Photos by author)

The D-2010 Scale 
2010 Wolftrap Red by Boekenhoutskloof Winery (South Africa)
Appearance (10 points possible): ruby red colors with brick edges, not totally clear, some small tartrates - 10 points
Aroma/Bouquet (20 points possible): Ripe plums, dark violet flavors, currants, elderbrries, toasty oak, nutmeg, and light strawberries. - 19 points
Taste (10 points possible):  Medium-bodied throughout with smooth tannins and fruity, violet flavors.  Tannins are very mature and the wine is very pleasant.  Flavor matches the nose well.  - 8 points
Balance (5 points possible): With all components in line, I think this wine is well balanced. - 5 points
Finish (5 points possible): Finish is slightly astringent, but it finishes with a sweet violet character and lingers with citrus/strawberry notes.  The finish was surprising, but smooth, long-winded, and pleasant. - 5 points
Packaging *Introduction to the D-2010 Scale*
Quality of Package (5 points possible):  Traditional Bordeaux style bottle with screw cap.  Additional "certified" sustainability seal on the closure.  Bottle is well-made and heavy. - 5 points
Label Marketability (10 points possible):  I like the label, but I didn't initially grab this bottle because I had no idea why someone would write "The Wolftrap" on a bottle label.  The fact that the 3 varietals are listed on the label really made me want to try it. - 9 points
Other (5 points possible):  I think the "certified sustai" seal will give this wine an extra point.  :) - 4 points
Total Points: 95 points
Overall Thought: It took some coercing for me to buy this wine, but I'm glad that the guy in the wine shop talked me into it.  I've never had a Syrah blend from South Africa - Pinotage, yes, but Syrah, no.  This was such a pleasant Syrah, though.  I really enjoyed the fact that this bottle reminded me of a field of violets.  It's not very often that I find Syrahs that are so strong in that character.  The extra push from the Viognier was just over-the-top perfect.  The higher alcohol and probably a touch of sweetness make this so enjoyable.  LOVE this red wine.
Food Pairings:  I'd try this wine with some cheddar cheese for all you cheese lovers out there.  It's perfect enough that I almost don't want to "ruin" it with food.  I could also see this with chicken pot pie with lots of veggies and a touch of nutmeg.  Yummy... winter... wine... that makes me wish for spring.  :)
Cost: $9.99 ($11.99 in PA)
Splurge Factor (out of 4): A $10.00 wine... unless you live in PA.  And $12.00 isn't bad for the quality.  Worth the purchase.  I've pushed this wine on several red wine drinkers, and it seems to be enjoyed by all.  This is what we'd call a bargain wine of high quality.
Where to buy:  I'm pretty sure you could find this wine through most distributors.  I found it while visiting my parents in the Northeast, but I've also found it in the PA PLCB wine stores.  :)

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Thrifty Wine Gear for Wine Geeks: Corked Flash Drive

Did you ever see something and absolutely crack up?  Well... that's when I did when I saw this flash drive.  Being in an active wine industry I would LOVE to carry one of these around.  This is definitely a conversation starter piece...

4GB Cork USB Drive - Perfect Gift for Wine Lovers
Cork Flash Drive (4GB, $25)
(Photo from

Can you see the conversation?  
Person 1: "Nice flash drive.  Do you like wine?"
You: "Why yes, yes I do!  Do you like wine?"
Person 1: "Yes, I do!  I'm really into Australian Shiraz.  Have you been to Australia?..."

And on, and on, and on.  

Regardless, what a great stocking stuffer, extra piece to add to a ribbon, gift for a best friend, etc.

Monday, February 27, 2012

A Vertical Tasting of 1998, 1999, and 2000 Chateau de Bellevue from Lussac St.-Emilion, Bordeaux

What is a vertical tasting?
A vertical wine tasting is tasting 1 wine variety from 1 producer in a series of consecutive years.  In this case, the vertical tasting is over a span of 3 years: 1998, 1999, and 2000.  Vertical tastings are a way to taste a series of vintage years from a single producer, allowing one to explore the varying nuances of each, unique year.  
(Photo from Google Images)

Where is the Lussac Saint Emilion?
Considered one of the Saint-Emilion satellites,  Lussac Saint-Emilion is an Appellation d'origine controlee (AOC) within the Bordeaux (France) region.  The satellites of Saint-Emilion were determined in 1936 for those producers in neighboring areas that fell slightly outside of the Saint-Emilion AOC.  Lussac Saint-Emilion is about 5 miles northeast of Saint-Emilion with varying soil types including clay-limestone, clay, or gravel.  Wines from this Bordeaux region should have intense red fruit characters and soft tannins.  As this is a satellite region, the wines are usually of extraordinary value. 
(Photo from Google Images)

Who is Chateau de Bellevue?
Kermit Lynch, the importer whom I purchased these wines from, describes Chateau de Bellevue, a producer in the Lussac Saint-Emilion AOC, and it's proprietor, Andre Chatenoud, perfectly.  Grapes are grown organically, while the wine is produced "non-organically."  Lynch's website also easily defines this producer according to the French system.  

These three wines are predominantly Cabernet Franc and Merlot blends.  I think you'll be amazed at the prices (each bottle less than $30)!  Even us ordinary folk can get our hands on classic, old Bordeaux's!  :)  For more information on this producer, please visit their website.

Château de Bellevue

Results of the Lussac Saint-Emilion Vertical Tasting:
1998 Chateau de Bellevue ($26)
Probably the least of interest of the 3 wines we tasted (for me anyway).  A brick red colored wine, with medium density.  This wine needed some time to breathe in the decanter as there was a strong Brett character (barnyard, smoky) upon opening.  Underneath the Brett existed some nice honey, floral, raisin characteristics with an earthy back note: herbs, tobacco, oak, and a hint of spice.

On the palate, the wine appeared medium-bodied and quite bountiful with tannins.  Herbal, earthy, and Bretty flavors, this wine definitely would go well with game or a nice steak.  The higher alcohol (13%) breaks in the finish, allowing for lingering flavors of earth, smoke, and oak. 

1998 and 1999 Chateau de Bellevue
(Photo by author)

1999 Chateau de Bellevue ($24)
Compared to the 1998, this wine showed it's elegance.  If the 1998 was the older brother, this was the younger, demure sister.  Powerful blackberries, leather, and dried plums in the nose with subtle hints of chocolate, tobacco, and earth.  A refreshing reminder of the herbal characteristics that define Cabernet Franc (tobacco, earthy, dried herbs, slight smoke) with noticeable, aged fruit.

More fruit in the palate, and smoother than the 1998.  The Brett is still noticeable as it thins out the finish, but this is the perfect introductory wine for those looking to try an old-world style Bordeaux at an affordable price.  The tannin is a bit "dusty" or drying in the finish, but the lingering flavors make up for this.  I'd like this wine some light, aged cheeses.

2000 Chateau de Bellevue ($28)
A beautiful brick, red color without perfect clarity.  Some small tartrates still remained.  This wine immediately opened with ripe, red cherry aromas, as if you were holding a basket of fresh berries in your hand.  As the wine breathes, graceful notes of leather, spicy cinnamon, and slight smoke laced with bacon fat surprisingly hit your nose.

Initially, this wine appeared thin and astringent up front, but it needed some time to breathe.  The mid-palate was weak and bit bland, probably due to the higher (13%) alcohol content.  There is still a slight green character to the wine, but not dominating.  I think this wine could've been kept longer and continue to impress.  With a slight hit of Brett, the wine paired well with our fatty clam chowder.  The cream from the soup really smoothed this wine out for a beautiful dinner by a setting sun.

2000 Chateau de Bellevue
(Photos by author)

Friday, February 24, 2012

Friday Feature: Red Sauce Pasta and Lemberger

Johnny Depp's perfect meal to make when there was nothing else to make was a red-sauce pasta dish with fresh parsley and Parmesan.  This was the perfect meal when we got home late, especially on a Friday night and want a glass of wine...  A short, romantic meal together.

Romance Is Waiting for You
(Photo by author)

"Johnny Depp's" Red Sauce Pasta
Recipe Ingredients
1 box of dried pasta of choice
1 jar of red pasta sauce
1 bag of shredded fresh Parmesan
3 Tbsp. of fresh parsley

1) Cook pasta according to package directions. 
2) Meanwhile, heat red pasta sauce in medium-sized pot on stove.  Cook through a slow boil, and then simmer.
3) Drain pasta when cooking is completed.  Add red sauce and mix thoroughly.  Add parsley, Parmesan, and pepper to taste.  Serve hot.

My wine pairing of choice 
Lemberger.  Try Briar Valley Vineyard & Winery's Lemberger that I reviewed earlier this week.  No Lemberger in town?  This is an Italian meal, so try an Italian varietal.  My preferred favorites: Chianti Classico (red) like S. Andrea Chianti Classico or Pinot Grigio (white).  If you're lucky enough to find a local Sangiovese, give that a try - it's the main grape they put into Chianti.  Like bigger, bolder wines?  Try a Super Tuscan with added gumption!

(Photo by author)

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Changes to Denise's Press Fractions

Isn't change a good thing?  :)  

While I'm still adjusting to find my place in the Blogosphere of wine blogs, I made a list of commitments to change a few things by the end of 2012.  I'm hoping all of these changes will better serve my audience, and I always welcome feedback.

1) I'm now on Twitter. (@WineNews4You)  I KNOW!  I remember the day Twitter was released (I was living in VA...), and I swore I would never get into Twitter.  But with my current job, I felt like it was now time to give it a try.  I promise you'll see some interesting wine news, enology (enology: the science of winemaking) updates, and of course... fabulous wines [for less than the price of your first born child] that I'm drinking!

(Photo from Google Images)

2) Eliminate "Friday's Wine News You Can Use."  Although I love hosting this content, it is the least popular of all my posts, and I don't think it follows my new focus... 

(Photo from Google Images)

3) ...A new focus to food and wine pairings!!  This is something I have absolutely fallen in love with doing, and think I have some great recipes and wines to share.  So I hope you'll all enjoy my all new Friday Features: Food & Wine.  :)

(Photo from Google Images)

4) Continue finding an every day way to put wine in your daily life with wine products, games, trinkets, trips, wineries, and neat entertaining ideas.  This is has always been the plan with "Denise's Press Fractions" and I hope you continue to enjoy it.

(Photo from Google Images)

5) Find me on Facebook: "Denise M. Gardner" - there's a picture of me in front of some fermentation tanks that matches my Twitter account!

(Photo by Penn State CAS Photographer)

By the end of 2012, maybe I'll be better coordinated with all my social media and invest in a smart phone.  (I know; I'm old fashioned!  What can I say?)  In 2013, look towards a website that links every-day wine living together...  The best is yet to come!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

What's in my Glass Wednesdays: 2009 Lemberger by Briar Valley and Winery

Briar Valley Vineyard and Winery has been winning national awards with their wines, and it's no surprise why.  Their quality is outstanding and their wines are quite unique!  

Lemberger is an Austrian/German red variety that exuberates a dark red color with strong blackberry, sour cherry, gooseberry, elderberry, chocolate, and slightly vegetal aroma and flavor profile.  It can be light or quite tannic.  The tannic styles are usually more "masculine" - less fruity, more oak, and more depth.  It's definitely a fun red wine to try!

2009 Lemberger
(Photo by author)

2009 Lemberger by Briar Valley Vineyard and Winery

The D-2010 Scale 
2009 Lemberger by Briar Valley Vineyard and Winery (Pennsylvania, USA)
Appearance (10 points possible): medium red color and density, clear - 10 points
Aroma/Bouquet (20 points possible): Smokey, meaty, beefy, black pepper, and slight toasty, coffee character.  A light red berry note. - 15 points
Taste (10 points possible):  Medium-bodied, smooth mouthfeel, lucious tannins with meaty, smokey flavor.  Wine is round with a spicy finish.  - 7 points
Balance (5 points possible): This wine is fairly well balanced.  It has some great acidity to match the body and smokey/meaty flavors.  The finish is long and lingering. - 5 points
Finish (5 points possible): Lingering finish with spicy flavors and smooth tannins. - 5 points
Packaging *Introduction to the D-2010 Scale*
Quality of Package (5 points possible):  Nice, Bordeaux style bottle, classic label, with matching capsule.  Overall great quality. - 5 points
Label Marketability (10 points possible):  Briar Valley uses a very traditional and classic label design for all of their wines, which matches their whole marketing and stylistic approach.  I do like the black label highlighted with gold.  I especially appreciate the name and vintage year on the bottle. - 9 points
Other (5 points possible):  There's no extra's on this bottle so I can give them too many extra points!  :) - 3 points
Total Points: 89 points
Overall Thought: This was quite an interesting Lemberger.  Truthfully, I don't have many Lembergers to compare this one to, but for me, it wasn't overly fruity.  It was a meaty (and by meaty, I mean "savory, bacon-fat, heavy, tannic red wine" kind of wine).  It's definitely a masculine wine with great interest.  I really appreciate the complexity in this wine.
Food Pairings:  I'm definitely seeing this wine with 2 things: A) cocoa chilli (I know... you are thinking, "ew" but honestly, it's deliciously spicy, meaty, savory, with a hint of chocolate) and B) shish-kabobs!  Turns out that more tannic Lembergers are perfect for grilled foods, and what's a better grilled food than shish-kabobs?  Doesn't this make you want summer to come that much faster?!  Can't do grilled yet due to the winter snow?  How about bar-b-que made with a slow cooker?  Yummmmy!  Cheese recommendations are a light blue, feta, or ripe Alpine (as suggested from this website).  Ooo I can see a meal - bar-b-que pulled pork with blue cheese mac 'n cheese....
Cost: $17.00
Splurge Factor (out of 4): 2 - I can see this is a steeper price range, but it's definitely a wine worth trying.  This is my "comfort zone" price point - I can always find a reason to purchase a wine for $20 or less if it's of substantial quality!
Where to buy:  Check out the Briar Valley Vineyard and Winery website.  Cheers!

(Photo from Google Images)

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Wine and Flowers - Inspiration

Over the past few years, I've been inspired by florists that design with wine (not where they drink the wine while designing floral arrangements, but where the design either incorporates wine itself or is inspired by a wine).  A friend of mine showed me a wine/flower shop that was doing this in Chicago, and she's been helping me try it out... for my own amusement more than anything!  If one believes that a wine has a "personality" then that feeling can be portrayed in a floral design.  (Or so I believe!)  For more information on her floral designs, check out The Blue Daisy Floral Design website.

Below are our images inspired by a bottle of Mumm Napa Brut Rose during our Modern Victorian Romance floral design classes.  As I was told that the designs would be pinked-based, I thought, in this case, the flowers could inspire a pairing for wine!  What do you think?  

(Photo by author)

Mumm Napa's Brut Rose is such a romantic wine to me.  The pink color that bubbles effortlessly in the glass is a sweet reminder to how wonderful life can be in any given moment.  One cannot drink this Brut Rose on a rainy day... but if you do, garnish the room with hints of pink to give yourself a warmed-over feeling. 

The wine is elegant, delicate, and feminine, much like these arrangements.  I think this style of wine and style of floral arrangements captures the young, innocent, and girly "love" feeling.

Wine with Modern Victorian Romance
(Photos by author)

Truthfully, I hope to show you more of these inspirations as time progresses.  After all, there are so many weddings out there that choose a wine and try to match it to their "theme" or "floral design."  Not to sound too much like a girl here, but I could honestly envision this pairing for a vintage style wedding that uses pale pink as one of their main colors.

(Photo by author)

Although some wine writers would argue that embracing yourself with flowers while drinking wine is a dangerous thing (due to all the odors emitted from the flowers... and the wine at the same time), I find that this situation enhances the wine itself by enhancing a feeling within the individual enjoying the wine.  The wine and flowers give one the emotion of romance and a fresh spring day... even if you're in a class mid-winter while it's snowing outside.  These are two relaxing materials: wine and flowers.  How can one not enjoy the union of the two?  Cheers!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Add Some Merlot... to Your Face!

Looking to add that wine flavor to your daily cleanser?  Well look no more!  :)  Apparently, you can now buy the Merlot grape extract in a body scrub:

Merlot Microdermabrasion Body Scrub
Merlot Microdermabraison Body Scrub
($16 at

Keep in mind that grapes are rich in antioxidants and the microdermabraison texture contains exfoliants that remove dead skin cells to refresh your natural skin layer.  Look for more of these grape extract in the future. :)

Friday, February 17, 2012

Friday Wine News You Can Use: Wines for Seducation

Everyone knows I'm a HUGE Natalie MaClean fan, and this article didn't disappoint.  If you're celebrating Valentine's Day... or the month of love... over the weekend, here are some of Natalie's suggestions to create "the mood."  Cheers!

This article was originally posted at Lifestyle Simpatico CA.  It is pasted here for your convenience.

by Natalie MacLean

(Photo from Google Images)

Forget flowers and chocolate on February 14, and head straight for the liquor store. Recent studies reveal the shockingly obvious insight that after a couple of glasses of wine, members of the opposite sex appear more attractive. According to the research firm Cyberpulse, sixty percent of women wish their sweethearts would give them wine, not candy or lingerie, for Valentine’s Day.
However, a gaping hole in the research is exactly which wines to give your sweetie and which ones work best for seduction. In the interest of science, I’m still conducting my own field studies on this. Since time is of the essence, I feel obligated to share my findings with you now.

Freixenet Cava Cordon Rosado, Spain
Is there anything more romantic than pink bubbly? In fact, a study of men in France found that when they see a man sharing a bottle of bubbly with a woman, they assume it’s his wife. However, if it’s pink champagne, they assume it’s his mistress. Aromas of ripe field raspberries tickle your note. Float a raspberry on top for an extra romantic touch. Price: $12.65 Score: 87/100.

Wente Vineyards Chardonnay Morning Fog, Livermore, California
A luscious, full-bodied chardonnay with generous aromas of white peach, toasty oak and almonds. “Full-bodied” is the key descriptor here that makes this wine “work” when it comes to romance. You can almost cuddle up beside its voluptuous layers of flavour. Perfect for romantic dinners featuring chicken picatta or seafood pasta with saffron cream sauce. Price: $16.95 Score: 88/100.

Full Press Winery Chardonnay, Niagara Falls, Ontario
When you want to pull out all the stops, go with this Full Press chardonnay. It’s ideal for dates where you’ll be presenting an engagement ring and want to leave nothing to chance. The wine is generous, rich and terrific: just what you’re looking for in a potential spouse. Green apple and vanilla smoke aromas mingle enticingly on the nose. Pair with: crab cakes or fettuccini alfredo. $11.95 Score: 87/100.

Fifth Leg Shiraz Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon, Western Australia
Fifth Leg ensure you’ll never be the third wheel in a relationship. A savoury, meaty, juicy red that's bursting with black plums and berries. There's a little mint on the nose which gives the wine a pleasant lift. Darkly concentrated, this is a terrific speed dating party wine. Start a party just by opening it. Pair with: lamb, roast beef. Price: $15.95 Score: 88/100.

La Crema Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast, California
When you want the best, go for La Crema of the croppa. This gorgeous, seductive red offers bright, ripe aromas of cherries and some baking spices. Silky smooth texture. They call pinot noir the “heartbreak grape” because it’s difficult and expensive to grow the grapes for this wine (not because of its relationships). I have loved this wine for a long time and whenever I see it on a restaurant list, I order it. Absolutely divine. Pair with: smoked salmon and a successful date. Price: $29.95 Score: 92/100.

Natalie MacLean is the author of Unquenchable: A Tipsy Search for the World's Best Bargain Wines. Check out more of her wine picks and pairings at

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Make Champagne Vinaigrette... the Napa Valley Way!

This salad dressing is a specialty of California's Wine Country, Napa Valley: Champagne Vinaigrette.

I've always wondered how this stuff was made, and I recently came across a recipe in Woman's World Magazine that I thought was worth sharing.  This type of dressing goes wonderfully with spinach salads:

Spinach Salad with Arugula, Scallops, and Grapefruit
(Photo from Skinny Taste)

Or with zesty vegetable salads:

Mixed Greens with Apricots
(Photo at Delish)

If that doesn't work, try it with orzo and tomatoes:
Orzo, Tomatoes, Parsley with Champagne Vinaigrette
(Photo from Google Images)

And now... for the recipe:
Champagne Vinaigrette
3 Tbsp. Champagne Vinegar (or White Wine Vinegar)
1 Tbsp. Sauvignon Blanc or other Dry White Wine
2 shallots, sliced thin
1 tsp. Dijon Mustard
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh Tarragon
1/4 cup Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
1/8 tsp. Salt
1/8 tsp. Pepper

In a small mixing bowl, whisk all ingredients together.  Serve immediately.  If dressing separates, whisk again!  

(Photo from Google Images)

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

What's in My Glass Wednesdays: 2010 Chardonnay Reserve by Penns Woods Winery

Chardonnay came come in a series of styles (and colors) primarily focused on either lots of [Chardonnay] fruit or lots of oak.  In the colder months, I tend to thirst for a good Chardonnay, which is why I thought now would be the perfect time to highlight one!

I finally came across a rather beautiful Chardonnay made in Pennsylvania, and thought that now was the perfect time.  The colder weather makes me want to reach for Chardonnay for some reason, so here's to a nice, chilled bottle of comfort wine!

2010 Penns Woods Chardonnay Reserve
(Photos by author)

2010 Chardonnay Reserve by Penns Woods Winery

The D-2010 Scale 
2010 Chardonnay by Penns Woods Winery (Pennsylvania, USA)
Appearance (10 points possible): light yellow color, brilliant, clear - 10 points
Aroma/Bouquet (20 points possible): Fresh apples with hints of toast.  Lots of citrus and "fresh, crisp stream water" with subtle notes of butterscotch, cream, and orange blossom. - 16 points
Taste (10 points possible):  This wine is somewhat focused towards the mid-palate and finish.  It's thin in the front of the palate (when the wine first enters the mouth), but then spreads across the palate as toasty, apple flavored Chardonnay with creamy mouthfeel.  It's medium-bodied and very smooth.  The crisp acidity makes this a food-friendly Chardonnay, which can be difficult to find.  The finish is strong and lingering.  Oak component to emphasize the fruit.  This wine would have what many experts call "mineralty" and I enjoy it in this Chardonnay.  - 8 points
Balance (5 points possible): The wine is slightly dis-integrated and angular in its mouthfeel, but nothing extreme.  It's very pleasant. - 4 points
Finish (5 points possible): Lingering with subtle floral, toasty, and creamy flavors.  Very smooth and appealing. - 5 points
Packaging *Introduction to the D-2010 Scale*
Quality of Package (5 points possible):  Traditional green bottle of good quality. - 5 points
Label Marketability (10 points possible):  A very simple label that emphasizes the winery and the variety.  I enjoy the gold accents.  Although the message on the front of the bottle is appealing, it's a bit wordy to me for a front label. - 8 points
Other (5 points possible):  I enjoy the gold accents on the label and the gold capsule.  :) - 4 points
Total Points: 90 points
Overall Thought: This Chardonnay hit the spot for me.  It's a good change from the traditional, overly vanilla Chardonnays that come out of California.  I usually miss the acidity in Chardonnay so I was happy to see this wine had it.  It was a very food-friendly Chardonnay.  It's a touch of spring in these cold winter months and lack of sun. 
Food Pairings:  Try grilled fish here, perhaps even grilled shrimp.  Grilled shrimp salad with crisp cilantro sounds somewhat appealing right now.  I could see this wine with creamy white sauces or even veal.
Cost: I actually don't know...  Someone served this to me, and I didn't ask the price.  :)
Splurge Factor (out of 4): ?? -  I guess this is hard to evaluate if one doesn't know the price!  :)
Where to buy:  Contact the winery, Penns Woods Winery for information on where to purchase.  There's actually a list on the winery's website of retail stores in which you can purchase their wines.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day - Romantic Wine Dinners

Valentine's Day is a perfect holiday to open your first (or next!) bottle of wine.  It doesn't take a lot of effort to make a very romantic meal:

Romantic Meal Inspired
(Photo by Stephanie Lenhart at The Blue Daisy Floral Design)

Here, I used a bottle of Mumm Napa Brut Rose (pink for Valentine's Day!) as inspiration.  I added half-a-loaf of sour dough bred, some Mascarpone cheese (with a light, nutty flavor and creamy texture) with a plate of fresh grapes, strawberries, and raspberries.  Pop in your favorite movie, and you have yourself a date-night.  It's honestly these little moments that mean the world to girls, so go ahead and give it a try.  Still single?  No problem!  Make this little meal for yourself... and pick YOUR favorite movie to celebrate!  You deserve it!

Remember - Valentine's Day is one of the best days of the year to drink wine.  It is the beverage of romance!  So go ahead and open up that bottle!

Happy Valentine's Day From My Glass to Yours!  Cheers!
(Photo from Google Images)

Monday, February 13, 2012

Champagne Punch and Fleur de Champagne from The Food Network

Found these wine-cocktail recipes for Valentine's Day while surfing the Food Network.  I thought that it was worth sharing because they sound oh-so-yummy and enticing.  If anyone tries this out and wants to share on their experience, please comment below!!  (P.S. I recommend a Korbel Brut or Cava for the sparkling wine when making the Champagne Punch.)

Champagne Punch
Picture of Champagne Punch Recipe

1 can (20-ounce) crushed pineapple in heavy syrup
1 cup fresh lemon juice
1 cup maraschino cherry juice
1 cup dark rum
1/2 cup brandy
1 bottle (750 ml) chilled inexpensive brut Champagne

In a large punch bowl or pitcher, stir pineapple, lemon juice, cherry juice, rum, and brandy to blend. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Add Champagne just before serving.  Recipe found here.

Fleur de Champagne

Elderflower Liqueur
Chilled Inexpensive Champagne
1/2 of Strawberry

Pour 1 oz of Elderflower Liqueur into a Champagne flute.  Fill with chilled sparkling wine.  Top of 1/2 of strawberry. Full recipe found here.

Elderflower Liqueur

Friday, February 10, 2012

Q: What Wine Goes With Chocolate?

A:  The trick with pairing desserts and wine is to always choose a wine that is sweeter than the dessert!  For all those ladies out there that LOVE chocolate, here's some fun ways to make that romance sizzle....

With white chocolate, try an Ice Wine.  The creaminess of the white chocolate will match perfectly with the ice wine.  Why not a Mazza Vidal Blanc Ice Wine?  It's filled with honey and apricot flavors that make a wonder pairing with white chocolate lovers.  It's a fruity and creamy combination that will make your heart flutter...

Ice Wine of Vidal Blanc bottle
Mazza Vidal Blanc Ice Wine (~$43) Pairs Well with White Chocolate

With milk chocolate, I recommend a tawny port.  Tawny's are filled with rich creamy, milky, caramel flavors that match the silky smooth essence of milk chocolate.  Make sure that you find one that is rich and sweet to match all those milk chocolate lovers out there.  

Try some Tawny Port with Milk Chocolate
(Photo from Google Images)

Dark chocolate can be very difficult to pair.  I've seen people recommend Cabernet Franc Ice Wines, but these can be very pricey ($80+), so I recommend something that's a little less pricey and more common.  Try a really rich Zinfandel or a high alcohol Cabernet blend from California.  Maybe an Australian Shiraz!  The point here is to get something deep, rich with a perception of sweetness that will match the bitterness of dark chocolate.  Shiraz (from Australia) can run lower than $10, so you're getting a thrifty buy here.  What about a Red Velvet by Cupcake Winery?  Or a Shiraz from Penfolds

Dark Chocolate and a Deep Red Wine = Seductive and Slightly Mysterious
(Photo from Google Images)

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Port Brownies for Valentine's Day

This recipe was stolen from Manatawny Creek Winery, but they've been such a hit with several groups of people that I've made them for, that I thought I should share given the up-and-coming romantic holiday!  :)

(Photo from Google Images)

Chocolate Brownies with Port Ganache
2 sticks butter
8 oz bittersweet chocolate
6 eggs
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup port (I use about 1 cup...)
1 TB vanilla
1 cup flour
1 tsp salt

For the brownies: melt the butter and chocolate in a saucepan. In a mixer, beat the eggs, sugar, port, and vanilla until smooth. Add the cooled chocolate, flour and salt and mix well. Pour into greased 13 x 9 pan and bake at 350 for 35 min.

1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup port
6 oz bittersweet chocolate

For the ganache: simmer the port in saucepan until it has reduced to about 2 TB. In a separate pan, heat the cream until boiling. Remove from heat and stir in the chocolate until melted. Add the reduced port and mix well. Let cool and pour over cooled brownies.

Other suggestions: mix ganache in the brownie mix and then bake for gooey goodness.  Make sure you have some matching ruby port to sip on while eating the brownies!  Pop in a girly movie and enjoy the chocolate and port over load!  :)  Cheers!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

What's in My Glass Wednesdays: 2010 Stone Cellar Gewurztraminer by Galen Glen

I've never encountered a wine from Galen Glen Winery that I haven't enjoyed.  And this is no exception.  I'm not really a huge fan of Gewurztraminer - it's definitely one of those wine varieties that you either love or hate.  For Riesling fans, it can be a bit intense.  But for wine aficionados, this kind of variety is usually stunning.  [Note to self, varieties that I've found to be "winemaker wines": Gewurztraminer, Petit Verdot, and Burgundy.]

2010 Stone Cellar Gewurztraminer by Galen Glen Winery

The Gewurz is on the left hand side... no I didn't take this picture
(Photo by Google Images)

The D-2010 Scale 
2010 Stone Cellar Gewurztraminer by Galen Glen Winery (Pennsylvania, USA)
Appearance (10 points possible): light yellow color, brilliant, clear - 10 points
Aroma/Bouquet (20 points possible): Strong floral and spicy nose!  Very intense lychee notes and ripe strawberries.  Characteristic Gewurz - very varietal. - 20 points
Taste (10 points possible):  Medium-bodied like a Gewurz should be (in my humble opinion). Front palate is strong with floral characters.  No real mid-palate (also very typical of Gewurz) with an oily, smooth mouthfeel that is fresh and clean.  - 9 points
Balance (5 points possible): In my mind, Gewurz can't be balanced.  There's always a beginning and an end... and that's about it.  It's like missing out on the middle section of book, but still enjoying it! - 4 points
Finish (5 points possible): Lingering strong finish of spice and Gardenia flowers. - 5 points
Packaging *Introduction to the D-2010 Scale*
Quality of Package (5 points possible):  Beautiful green Alsatian style bottle, traditional label, and nice closure. - 5 points
Label Marketability (10 points possible):  I really like the traditional, simple Galen Glen label.  I also like that all the bottles match.  Although, it may be difficult to spot this label in a large wine store, I think it matches the style and emphasis of this winery. - 8 points
Other (5 points possible):  There's no big extras on this bottle, so I do have to mark it down a few points, but I don't think this kind of wine should have "extras."  This is why number scores are pointless.  :) - 3 points
Total Points: 94 points
Overall Thought: Like I said, I'm not "into" Gewurz at my current age in life.  However, I drink it quite often with lots of Thai food and at receptions or banquets.  This Gewurz impressed me.  It wasn't over the top and it wasn't too subtle.  It was a perfectly acceptable in-between Gewurz.  Truly enjoyable.
Food Pairings:  This is a go-to wine for Thai food and spicy Asian or Indian cuisine.  However, I also see this with some bland, medium-aged cheeses.  
Cost: $14.00
Splurge Factor (out of 4): 1 -  Seriously - this is a good buy for this kind of quality.  Wines of this finesse deserve to be much pricier.  :)
Where to buy:  Contact the winery, Galen Glen Winery, for purchasing information.  Remember, if you are a resident of Pennsylvania, you can have wines shipped directly to your door from any in-state winery.  :)

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

A Wine for Valentine's Day

Is Valentine's Day your most dreaded holiday of the year?  Well I have a quick idea on how to spruce it up!

I'm fortunate enough to have a beau that can cook, and I have to admit, we've never actually "been out" for Valentine's Day.  We often create a nice meal around a bottle of wine.  This year, I was thinking of one of my favorites, Mumm Napa Brut Rose.  (I particularly prefer the magnum.  You can see my review here.)

If you want to create an affordable, yet romantic Valentine's Day, I suggest creating a meal of your own and surprising (or planning with) your significant other.  Here is my image:

With some creativity, you can enjoy Valentine's Day with your significant other, a group of friends, or by yourself!  If for no other reason to partake in Valentine's Day, CELEBRATE YOU!  Grab a bottle of Brut Rose by Mumm Napa - you can find it all over the country.  My suggestion for this bottle: a fresh salmon salad.  Make sure you dress up your table for the holiday - candles, flowers, and a card.  Grab a bottle stop in case you don't finish the wine (why wouldn't you?), pop in some of your favorite music, and enjoy the night away.  :)

Monday, February 6, 2012

Enjoy Some You Tube Reviews of Pennsylvania Wines

I was lucky enough to meet Victor at the Pennsylvania Wine Society tasting in January.  He's a huge advocate of Pennsylvania wines, and I've really enjoyed his reviews of some of Pennsylvania's best wines.  If you are interested in Pennsylvania wines, I encourage you to check out his website:  He frequently updates his reviews of wines, and I hope you enjoy them.  One of my favorites is about Pinnacle Ridge's Veritas.

To read more about Pennsylvania wines or learn more about Victor, visit here!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Friday's Wine News You Can Use: 4 PA Wineries to be Served on Draught!

These wines are perfect served from a keg at a wine bar in Philadelphia, PA!  This is, of course, becoming the standard way wines are being stored and sold in restaurants - a great way to maintain the wines' integrity and quality over time.  If you haven't tried these producers' wines - you are... missing out.  :)  Cheers to that!  And I hope I'll see you at the Paris Wine Bar soon!

This article was originally posted Penn Live.  It is pasted here for your convenience.

February in Paris: Four Pennsylvania wineries to be served on draught

By: Paul Vigna (The Patriot News)

(Photo from Google Images)

(Photo from Philly Burbs)

So what's on tap for Pennsylvania wineries?

Actually, something quite significant. A downtown Philadelphia restaurant has announced that it's opening a wine bar next door that will offer wines from four Pennsylvania wineries on tap. That news is about as good as it gets for an industry that could use all the promotion it can get.

According to a recent tidbit from Inquirer and food columnist Michael Klein, London Grill (23rd and Fairmount) will open Paris Wine Bar (2303 Fairmount Ave.) in mid-February in a space previously used for takeout and an insurance office.  Wines from Pinnacle Ridge (Kutztown, Berks County and Lehigh Valley wine trails), Manatawny Creek (Douglassville, Berks County Wine Trail), Galen Glen (Andreas, Lehigh Valley Wine Trail) and Allegro (The Brogue, Mason-Dixon Wine Trail) will be served along with, according to Klein, French-inspired dishes in a tin-ceilinged, Euro setting.

Wines will cost from $7 to $9.50/glass, with some as low as $4 during happy hour (5 to 7 p.m.). The tentative launch date is Feb. 9
Brad Knapp, owner and winemaker at Pinnacle Ridge, wrote in an e-mail that the restaurant reached out to the wineries. "They wanted to be the first to do this, so they made it happen," he said. He noted that discussions have started to also feature a wine from Waltz Vineyards in Manheim. Paris Wine Bar will serve a 2010 Syrah (not yet available to the public) and 2011 Dry Vidal Blanc from Pinnacle Ridge, a 2010 Merlot from Manatawny Creek (also one that hasn't been released yet), a 2011 Grüner Veltliner from Galen Glen, and a dry rose from Allegro.

It's safe to say that all four wineries are approaching this project with a bit of angst but much anticipation. Joanne Levengood, of Manatawny, said she's excited by the commitment that London Grill owner Terry Berch McNally has to using local products. "This is something more people should do," she wrote.

Sarah Troxell, co-owner of Galen Glen and the winery's excellent winemaker, echoed those sentiments when asked why she's so looking forward to getting this arrangement under way:

"1. kegged wine is a very new trend in the US (of course it already exists in Europe) and we are enjoying learning about the process
2. our wine gets introduced to the Phila consumer in an affordable “by-the-glass” venue. And Phila is “big time!”
Allegro co-owner and winemaker Carl Helrich said this is a big step for a Pennsylvania wine community that often struggles to get its winers into nearby wineries let alone one in Center City Philly.

"What's nice to see is a place in an urban setting that's realizing that they have local wineries in their neighborhood that can actually provide them a product that they can put to good use," he said by phone Friday. "We're been trying for years to get restaurants in the area here to take advantage of the fact we're local and priced competitively for the quality we offer. It's a tough thing to fight your way into."

Helrich laughed when asked how the keg concept, something in this country that's foreign to wine but a part of everyday life for beer, will work. "That's going to be interesting," he said. "You're looking at basically a bunch of winemakers trying to pretend that they know something about brewing, which is what kegging is about. So, luckily at least a couple of us involved, Brad and myself, are reformed homebrewers. I used to keg beer back when I was much younger. So we have a sense of what's going on. . . . It's basically a very similar process to what the beer industry does. It's just that our product is not carbonated."

Thursday, February 2, 2012

New Zealand Virtual Tasting

Here's something fun that a colleague of mine brought to my attention: New Zealand virtual wine tasting by Complexity and Wine Channel TV.

The actual wine tasting is this Saturday: February 4th. Registration is free and it's up to you if you'd like to buy the wines and join in on the tasting.

If you don't have The Wine Channel, you can follow updates on Twitter (or you can follow Penn State's Kathy Kelley @kmk17psu as she participates in the program) or on Facebook.

To register please visit or check out

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

What's in my Glass Wednesdays! 2010 Chateau Haut Guillebot Sauvignon Blanc

I took a chance on this wine... when I passed the French white Bordeaux section, I suddenly became thirsty for an old-world style Sauvignon Blanc.  I have to say, if you have never tasted an old-world Sauvignon Blanc, I highly recommend it.  It's so different from the new-world (New Zealand) style Sauvignon Blanc.  And it's an absolute steal!

2010 [Sauvignon Blanc] by Chateau Haut Guillebot

(Photos by author)

The D-2010 Scale 
2010 [Sauvignon Blanc] by Chateau Haut Guillebot (Bordeaux, France)
Appearance (10 points possible): pale yellow color, clear - 10 points
Aroma/Bouquet (20 points possible): Citrus, vanilla, cream, ripe apple, slight floral, fresh figs, and slight grassy notes.  Absolutely beautiful! - 20 points
Taste (10 points possible):  Medium-bodied, smooth and creamy, crisp food-friendly acidity, and a lingering finish of ripe apples and vanilla.  - 10 points
Balance (5 points possible): There's enough acidity that makes this incredibly food friendly or crisp enough to sip on it's own.  All the parts of this wine just meld together - like a perfect union. - 5 points
Finish (5 points possible): Smooth with a lingering crisp apple finish and hints of vanilla that appear later as the wine settles. - 5 points
Packaging *Introduction to the D-2010 Scale*
Quality of Package (5 points possible):  Typical Bordeaux bottle, technical (1+1) cork, silver capsule, and beautiful label. - 5 points
Label Marketability (10 points possible):  I really like this label - again traditional and classic.  The extra touch of blue glitz really pulls this package together.  It screams "Sauvignon Blanc" to me!  (Sauvignon Blanc is always a little cutting edge, isn't it?) - 10 points
Other (5 points possible):  The sparkling blue writing brings this package together, especially with the silver capsule!  I also love the story on the back label about how this wine has been made by seven generations of women in the same family. - 5 points
Total Points: 100 points
Overall Thought: Honestly, I talked myself into buying this wine because I was skeptical of the price.  It wasn't recommended by anyone or anything.  (No one even reviewed this wine... probably because it's only 12.5% alcohol... thank God, by the way!)  But I'm SO glad I bought this bottle.  Not only was it a fabulous choice - apparent Sauvignon Blanc married to some subtle oak and sur lie (creamy) characteristics, but having it for dinner with friends brought the whole experience together.  I don't believe I'll ever forget this evening or wine! And THAT is what wine should be!  (If you haven't figured it out, I'd buy this wine over and over again.)
Food Pairings:  It was actually marketed as a "sushi wine" so I gave it a try... knowing full well that sushi is so difficult to pair with wine (very salty, sometimes fishy, lots of spices and savory flavors).  But I could also see this wine with a light, white-sauce pasta or chicken dish.  I could see this with pork and fresh herbs or even some light roasted veggies. 
Cost: $11.99
Splurge Factor (out of 4): 1 -  Seriously - read that cost again!  $11.99 for an AMAZING wine.  What more can you ask for?  This is the type of wine that is consumer friendly, very approachable, and enjoyable... especially for dry wine drinkers or for those sweet wine drinkers that want to try something a bit more serious.
Where to buy:  Like last week, I purchased this one at Total Wine.  :)

Yummm... sushi and wine!
(Photo by author)